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In an era where greenwashing has become all too common, it is refreshing to witness companies, regulators, and policymakers taking a stand for transparency and authenticity in their environmental practices. As a leading educational travel company, we want to be part of this positive shift, and that is why we are stepping forward to openly discuss our decision to move towards carbon removal and why we no longer claim carbon neutrality. With a commitment to honesty and feasible actions, CAS Trips aims to be part of the move towards more responsible environmental practices within the travel industry.

Moving beyond carbon neutrality

We are constantly interrogating our approach to sustainable travel and have come to believe that claiming carbon neutrality alone is not a sufficient or accurate goal for protecting the environment and promoting responsible business practices. We understand that travelers are faced with a multitude of environmental labels and claims attached to products, companies, and services. 

However, discerning the reliability and trustworthiness of these claims is a challenge. Many ecological claims are not backed by credible evidence, and we see this reflected in the fact that governing bodies in the EU and UK are looking to propose legislation to prevent false claims by companies. It has been further underscored by recent legal issues involving advertising by travel companies like Intrepid. 

Transparency as the cornerstone of our actions

At CAS Trips, we understand that transparency needs to be the foundation for all our efforts to address environmental concerns. Recognizing the complexity of carbon calculations and the challenges of obtaining precise data from every aspect of their operations, we are determined to provide an accurate and transparent overview of our efforts while acknowledging areas where further progress is needed.

In 2022, we made significant progress in providing more detailed reporting of our carbon consumption. For example, we have determined that the average Kg CO2 per student to get to/from our destinations is 148.2. Our total CO2 offset for last year, through our donation to Stand for Trees, was 763 tons.

Our partnership with Tomorrow’s Air 

Going forward, though, we have decided to partner with Tomorrow’s Air to reduce our carbon impact. Tomorrow’s Air is a travel collective engaging travelers and travel companies to help scale up the use of carbon removal technology—cleaning up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it permanently.  

This proactive step follows our understanding that, alongside conventional carbon offsetting and natural climate solutions, new carbon removal and storage approaches are also needed to help us clean up the trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The reality is that even if all carbon dioxide emissions were to halt entirely right now, Earth’s warming would continue due to the high levels of carbon dioxide already stored in the atmosphere. The only way to permanently reverse warming is through carbon removal. 

Therefore, since January 2023, we have incorporated a $20 contribution to Tomorrow’s Air into all our trips. CAS Trips traveler contributions support inspiring traveler education about meaningful climate action and an order for 14kgs carbon to be removed and permanently stored.

Evolving carbon offsetting efforts

We are proud of this partnership and feel we are on the right track to be accountable to our partners and those who travel with us. That said, although we have made significant strides in our carbon emission calculations and climate action strategies, we acknowledge that it is currently impossible to calculate every individual carbon detail. We will continue striving to provide a complete carbon accounting for each trip to more readily determine areas where changes and reductions can have the most significant impact. By aiming for accurate carbon labeling through the calculation of daily emissions, we look to empower travelers to make informed decisions based on the environmental impact of their travel choices. 

As we actively work towards this as a future goal, though, we are focusing on measurement and offsetting our scope one and scope two emissions, as well as the carbon emissions from staff travel, encompassing the carbon footprint associated with their transportation and accommodation.

Currently, our numbers for Total Internal CO2 emissions read as follows: 

  • Scope 1 & 2 (our office): 1.3 tonnes
  • Homeworking emissions: 1.3 tonnes
  • Staff travel: 4.1 tonnes
  • TOTAL 6.7 tonnes

In addition, we include 20% conflation, so we will be offsetting a total of 8.2 tonnes to account for our internal emissions. 

Internal calculations and carbon removal initiatives

We are also beginning to employ internal calculations to obtain general averages for every destination, encompassing factors such as hotels, food, and transportation. Additionally, we are calculating the carbon emissions associated with the groups that travel with us to understand what mitigation measures we can implement. Moreover, we demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship by organizing service activities like cleanups during our trips, which totaled an impressive 2597 student hours cleaning up the environment last year.

Mitigation and offset initiatives

In line with our commitment to environmental responsibility, we remain dedicated to our Glasgow Declaration commitments, focusing on mitigation and offsetting scope one and scope two emissions. Furthermore, we strongly emphasize public transportation during our trips and offer incentives to encourage travelers to opt for train travel. Our Close to Home program also prioritizes localized travel, minimizing carbon emissions associated with long-haul flights. Additionally, we remain mindful of sustainability concerns when developing new destinations, ensuring responsible tourism practices are upheld.

As our Program and Sustainability Manager, Neil Brinckerhoff, explains, “Transparency is not just a buzzword for us—it is a fundamental principle that guides our environmental practices. While we may not yet have all the answers and detailed data for every carbon calculation, we are committed to being honest about what we can achieve and actively working towards a more comprehensive understanding. Our goal is to continuously improve our carbon offsetting efforts while fostering transparency and environmental responsibility within the travel industry.”

The plan going forward

As our 2021 sustainability report and responsible tourism policy illustrate, we want to keep our progress public and accountable. We hope our decision to no longer claim carbon neutrality demonstrates our unwavering commitment to transparency and responsible environmental practices. By openly discussing our efforts, acknowledging areas for improvement, and sharing their sustainability initiatives, we hope to pave the way for a more sustainable future in educational travel.